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Raise a Glass

A toast to Canada's organic wines

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Raise a Glass

There are few more pleasurable experiences than relaxing with a glass of wine on a summer evening. But are there organic wines available from Canadian wineries?

There are few more pleasurable experiences in life than relaxing with a cooling glass of wine on a long summer’s evening. But for those of us who like to consume organic products, are there organic options available?

And what exactly does organic mean in relation to wine? Reading the labels at a liquor store may not give you the full picture of what goes into (or what doesn’t go into) producing a particular wine.

The grapes

The beauty of organic wine is knowing you are drinking a product created entirely in harmony with nature. No environmentally harmful synthetic pesticides and fertilizers have been used. The use of cover crops, natural predators, and disease-resistant vines reduce the need for spraying.

The fermentation

What happens to the grapes once they leave the fields also determines whether they may be called organic. Though sulphur dioxide (SO2) is a natural byproduct of the fermentation process of grapes and is present in small amounts in all wines, including organic wines, the Certified Organic Association of BC (COABC) encourages winemakers to produce wines without adding SO2.

Naturally occurring acids such as ascorbic and citric acid can be added to the organic wine as stabilizing agents.

The storage

After harvesting, the grapes used in organic wine should only be kept in clean containers made from enamelled metal, wood, or plastics approved for use in food storage. Organic grapes must not be contaminated by contact with even the must or juice of nonorganic grapes. Similarly, only organic yeast nutrients can be added in the winemaking process.
The barrels that store the wine, and their stoppers, must be made from wood, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic. 

Organic wines that cross provincial or international borders must sport a logo created by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that shows a maple leaf rising behind a field with the words “biologique Canada organic” and means that the wine meets the Organic Products Regulations.

The vineyards

Organic wines are part of Canada’s rich tradition stretching back to the first commercial vineyard on Pelee Island in 1866. There are organic wineries in British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.

Organic fruit wineries, such as the en Sant?inery in Alberta and the Rigby Orchards Estate Winery in Manitoba, produce wines from Saskatoon berry, raspberry, wild cherry, and even rhubarb.

Many organic wineries such as Rollingdale in British Columbia and Frogpond Farm in Ontario are small operations, but they do have websites where their wines can be ordered online. Summerhill and Kalala wines are available online and can be bought from liquor stores across the country. The produce of L’Acadie can be purchased at select wine merchants and Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation stores.

You can relax in the knowledge that no harm came to the environment during the production of these organic wines. Also, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the transportation of these Canadian wines is less than if they had come from other parts of the world.

These two facts will bring an environmentally friendly smile to your face and make that lovely wine taste even better on a warm summer evening. 

Organic wines

Winery Wine Tones and flavours Pairs with Winery website
Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Kelowna, BC 2006 Organic Pinot Noir classic Pinot Noir with raspberry, licorice, and vanilla aromas fish (salmon, halibut, tuna), duck, and vegetarian dishes summerhill.bc.ca
Rollingdale Winery, Kelowna, BC 2008 Luminescence elegant Chardonnay with aromas of pear, butter, light toast, and spice 

rich fish such as halibut or salmon

rollingdale.ca
Frogpond Farm, near Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario 2007 Organic Cabernet Franc VQA raspberry and cinnamon aromas in the nose; cherry, plum, and a soupcon of peppers on the palate

pasta, red meat, and roasted vegetables, or with dark chocolate for a wonderful dessert

frogpondfarm.ca
L’Acadie Vineyards, Wolfville, Nova Scotia 2008 L’Acadie light-bodied white wine with citrus and green apple aromas and flavours seafood lacadievineyards.ca
Kalala Organic Estate Winery, Kelowna, BC 2007 Pinot Gris full-flavoured, medium-bodied wine; aromas of pear, melon, and citrus peel smoked salmon, mushrooms, poultry, and light pasta dishes kalalawines.ca/wine

The definitions

The fact that a wine is organic can be indicated in different ways on the wine bottle. Here is a list of terms you might see on a label along with their definitions.

Label Definition
100% organic The wine is produced using grapes that have been certified as 100 percent organically grown; also means that no sulphur dioxide (SO2) has been added during the winemaking process.
Organic

The wine has been produced with a minimum of 95 percent organic ingredients; a very low level of SO2 can be added.

Made with organic grapes The wine was made with a minimum of 70 percent organic grapes; the wine grower can add SO2.
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